Summary: They left everything and followed him; a challenge for following Jesus.
Knute Rockne served as head coach of Notre Dame University’s football team from 1918-1931. During those 13 seasons, he scored a winning percentage of just over 88%, the best ever for a college (or pro) football coach.
Rockne knew how to play football. More precisely, he knew how to coach; to inspire, get the best from his players, out-think his opponents, and win games. During his 13 seasons at Notre Dame, his teams won 105 games, lost 12, tied 5, and won 6 national championships.
Many things contributed to his success I am certain; but one of them was his demand for absolute compliance with team rules. He expected football players to do what he told them to do -- and to do it right away, because things change quickly in a football game.
He put it to the players this way: "You fellows must do what you’re told if you wish to play on my team. If you are not willing, you need not begin. I care not what your record has been, you must observe the rules or you are disqualified. Should I find you violating the rules in one single instance, I will put you on the bench.
Remember this, I can see farther ahead than you, and there is good reason for my insistence."
1. I don’t know much about Mr. Rockne, and I’m not a Notre Dame football fan, but I sure like his attitude. He understood that his players would not always understand his direction, but if they trusted his judgment, they need not always understand.
2. Beyond a doubt, that football team was successful because the players trusted his judgment (even when it seemed doubtful), and they were willing to follow him. Well, enough about football…let’s go fishing! TWM to Luke 5…
3. We continue to study Jesus’ ministry during Epiphany season. Until this morning, there have been no significant characters in our texts – only Jesus. However, this morning Luke introduces us to Simon, a fisherman, who becomes a significant personality.
4. It’s helpful to know a bit about this profession in NT times:
A. A fisherman like Simon owned his own ship, took hirelings into his service, and sometimes joined with another fisherman to form companies.
B. Because of the investment in equipment, the formation of “companies” and the like, we should regard fishermen as in the lower middle class, rather than a very low social class.
C. There were three forms of fishing common in the NT:  using a hook (no pole),  a harpoon, or spear, and  using a net.
01. There were two styles of nets:  a small net, cast from the shallows near the shoreline, and  a seine, cast from a boat to hang vertically in deeper water.
02. Since the steering oar of the boat was on the right side, nets were cast over the left (cf.Jn.21: 6); the nets were dragged through the water, and eventually pulled into the boat, emptied and recast.
II. EXPOSITION OF THE TEXT (Luke 5:1-11)
1. 1-3: Jesus Teaches the Crowd
A. On the shore of Lake Gennesaret (aka Sea of Galilee, Lake Tiberias), crowd draws closer to hear his message and (unintentionally) drives him to the water’s edge.
B. Jesus gets into Simon’s boat, asks him to push out a bit so he can continue where folks can hear him; they are eager to hear!
01. The anglers are ashore, washing and mending their nets, weary from the night’s work; yet captivated by Jesus’ teaching enough to assist him.
02. Jesus sits down in the boat (Rabbis sat to teach) and completes his message.
2. 4-5: Jesus’ Challenge to Simon
A. When he is finished teaching, Jesus beckons Simon to put the boat out into deep water and drop the nets for a catch. Simon has a few problems at this point:
01. The workers are tired. They worked hard (lit. exhaustingly) all night long.
02. Their tools are clean and put away. If they fish again, they wash nets again.
03. They already know the outcome. They were cleaning nets, not cleaning fish.
a. No experienced fisherman would drop nets into deep water in daylight – it was a waste of time and energy.
b. John’s account of the story tells us Jesus had them throw the net off the right side of the boat (where you never fished – it was the steering side!)
B. If this doesn’t work, Simon has some angry workers and looks like an idiot – after all, he should know better!
3. 6-10: Unimaginable Success
A. So many fish the nets begin to break; they cry for help those ashore.
B. The second boat arrives; they fill both till they begin to sink.
C. Everyone is “gripped with bewildering amazement” (allied to terror (AMP)) over the haul of fish. Simon is overwhelmd, falls at Jesus’ feet and makes a startling request: “Go away!” Why would he say such a thing?